Values are the foundation of any great safety culture which will become obvious by safe actions of the employees. Every company should have a description of an ideal safety culture based on its values. Below are eight keys to an effective safety culture that are common to most situations:
All employees at every level view it as their mission to identify and eliminate any hazard.
When employees working in the thick of it perceive that safety is a priority for their management, they are more likely to make safety their mission as well. When management reacts quickly to correcting hazards and shows appreciation for good communication, not only will it improve employee engagement, but it will also result in a safe workplace.
All employees at every level are comfortable stopping each other if a potential hazard is observed and honor each other by giving credit when safe behaviors are observed.
Sure, it is necessary to draw attention when something unsafe is observed. However, if employees feel that they only receive criticism, a grate safety culture will never be attained. Positive reinforcement of recognizing the great things that they are doing will reach their heart and motivate them to embrace safety culture as their own.
Probe near misses or incidents. Instead of blaming a person, evaluate the possible systemic causes.
Often, when people engage in risky behaviors that lead to incidents, there are systems and practices within the organization that inadvertently encourage those unsafe practices. It is important to uncover those systemic issues and establish accountability in order to assure changes that elicit safe behavior.
Fear of discipline driven out of the culture.
Fear of discipline often works against building a culture of safety. Fear of discipline can decrease morale, diminish trust, lower productivity, and discourage teamwork and engagement. If employees are disinclined when reporting incidents, the company will be unable to learn from its mistakes. In turn, the employer loses the opportunity to proactively correct the errors.
The workforce is characterized by having a good relationship.
Trust is vital for an effective safety culture. As discussed, mistakes and errors do provide invaluable learning lessons. Employees who enjoy a good relationship with management are more likely to speak openly and honestly about what is working, what is not, and what still needs modification. They are also more involved in other aspects of safety.
Safety is woven into the fabric of daily work.
It is not just a requirement to be considered only during weekly safety meetings or at shift changes. Safety should be part of every conversation and considered in every decision. Employees should perceive that it is important and well thought out with intentionality.
Successes are celebrated on a regular basis.
Recognize and honor every successful step employees make. Pride shouldn’t be focused solely on a company’s safety record, but also in what is being done every day to accomplish that record.
Take steps to include in your safety program people of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Often immigrants feel like outsiders and have the belief that safety culture only applies to everyone else. Many have the added disadvantage of lacking a full understanding of English. By understanding their culture and communicating with them in their native language, they can effectively integrate with your safety culture as well.
Alfonso Interpreting specializes in the niche of providing safety translation, interpretation and Spanish/English bilingual safety training. Have you been challenged with implementing a safety culture with a diverse linguistic workforce? Why not give us a call and see what solutions we may have for you?